Oil-Rich Nonseed Tissues for Enhancing Plant Oil Production

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Plants are being engineered for enhanced ethanol production; however, challenges remain in meeting the demand for bioenergy that is expected to double by 2030. Therefore, targeting carbon accumulation in the form of energy-dense oils in nonseed biomass is considered a superior alternative for bioenergy production. Although oils in the form of triacylglycerols (TAGs) are typically stored in seed tissues, various nonseed tissues such as mesocarp, tubers, stems and leaves also serve as storage tissues for TAG accumulation in plants. Moreover, the biomass of these tissues is generally far greater than seed biomass. In order to increase oil content in nonseed biomass for bioenergy and nutritional purposes, it is important to understand how such plants naturally accumulate TAG in nonseed tissues. Several molecular approaches, including transcriptomics, have been undertaken to elucidate the metabolic and regulatory mechanisms of carbon partitioning in oil-rich nonseed tissues. Such studies are expected to generate important transgenic tools that can be used to alter fatty acid metabolism and engineer plants to produce oil-rich biomass successfully. This review focuses on the potential of different oil-rich nonseed tissues and the strategies developed for enhancing oil biomass.